Aren't We Different Because We're Engaged?


Does being engaged mean it's okay to have sex? Carla Barnhill considers the reasons you should save sex for marriage.

Q. I'm 18 and my girlfriend is 17. We first had sex about a year ago after we decided to get married when we get older. At first we didn't plan to have sex. We were both virgins. But we really enjoy having sex—I think it's been beautiful, and not at all selfish. I know that the Apostle Paul talks about how what is beneficial for one person may not be good for another. Couldn't that apply to my relationship with my girlfriend? I mean, aren't we different because we're getting married? Aren't we different from people who go out and hook up with people they don't even know? Neither of us has been with anyone else, and we don't plan to. I don't understand why people think something so beautiful between us can be wrong.

A. Lots of people wish they could find an exception to the "no sex outside of marriage" part of Christianity that would allow for guilt-free premarital sex. But there isn't one. Sex was created by God as a way for two married people to express a complete and unbreakable bond. There really are no exceptions.

Planning to get married and actually being married are not the same thing. I know you believe you will never break up with this girl, but until the two of you stand before God, your family and friends, and make a public vow to be committed to each other, you can't be sure that you will always be with her. High school romances, no matter how intense or permanent they feel, often end not long after graduation. Until you are actually "one flesh" in the eyes of God and those who know you, you shouldn't be "one flesh" at all (Mark 10:7-9).

One more thing: You mention Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 6:12 about religious laws not applying equally to everyone. It's easy to misuse that passage in an effort to get away with doing things we really shouldn't do. But Paul's not suggesting that some Christians are so strong that they can ignore the "rules" of faith. He's actually saying that some Christians are so weak that the church needs to be careful not to put unnecessary restrictions on what it means to be a faithful Christian. And Paul wasn't talking about God's commandments, which apply to all Christians. This passage is about Jewish cultural standards, like eating certain foods, that Paul believed were optional to the Gentiles who wanted to become Christians. On the issue of sexual immorality, Paul is very clear: It's not permitted for any Christ–follower (1 Corinthians 6:13-20).

If you and your girlfriend truly love each other and believe you will be together forever, then you have all the more reason to stop having sex. If you end up married, you won't have missed anything but the guilt and doubt that can enter a dating relationship once sex is part of the picture. Save sex for your marriage and you will know you're faithfully walking in line with God's will for his children.

Written by Carla Barnhill


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